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Letter: I Don’t See It As A Choice

Developing a school budget at any time can be challenging.  These days it is further complicated by the constraints imposed by the New York State Property Tax Cap.  So, I would like to recognize the efforts by the superintendent, school administrators, the board of education and the business office to develop a school budget that maintains this community’s commitment to academic excellence.

A Manhasset school budget that did live within the constraints of the property tax cap (which is actually 1.43 percent, not the often touted 2 percent) would severely impact our academic programs and curriculum and obliterate our extensive co-curricular activities at the elementary, middle and high school levels.

Why is this year’s budget any different from last year or the year before?  It is a good question and one that really should be asked directly of the administration and board of education – but from my perspective there are two drivers that make this year different:

Due to pressure from the community to “give back taxpayer money,” the district used reserves to lower previous tax increases, which is no longer an option for the 2013-2014 school budget.

Major mandated increases in pension and health care costs, dictated by NYS law.

So after all is said and done, the administration has not been reckless with our tax dollars. They have simply run out of options for significant savings reductions short of eliminating courses at the secondary level, thereby eliminating teachers; collapsing classes at the elementary level, thereby eliminating teachers; and/or eliminating “big ticket” items such as before- and after-school activities such as interscholastic sports, drama productions and the like.  These are not empty threats, but the ugly reality if the budget does not pass with a 60 percent supermajority vote on Tuesday, May 21.

Personally, I think this is too high of a price to pay and would rather see my taxes go up a modest amount than see all that I hold dear in our school district and our community be decimated. Please help the administration meet their obligation to the young people enrolled in our schools – our children – and vote “Yes” on May 21.

Justine Lennon